Winning the war on Polio

Source MDG 4, NPHCDA polio PowerPoint

Polio is a crippling disease which can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection, with children under the age of 3 being the most vulnerable to the disease. While not everyone infected by the disease will become paralysed, there is no cure once infected. The only way to prevent polio is through immunization.

Immunizing against polio
To combat the spread of the disease the NPHCDA has developed a comprehensive programme to eradicate polio through a series of Immunization Plus Days (IPD) and Sub-National Immunization Plus Days (SIPDs) ensuring every child has access to immunization services. Alongside the immunisation programmes, the NPHCDA has developed better data capture and information systems to monitor progress. This includes the specialist Polio Laboratory which was developed to provide active surveillance on instances of the wild polio virus.

Local and national commitment
To enhance community participation in the immunization programmes, the NPHCDA has engaged with local communities through traditional leaders committees. This has led to heightened awareness on the importance of stamping-out polio through social mobilization activities such as the Polio Walk, Kick Polio out of Nigeria campaign and the Polio Road Show.

Events at a local level have been mirrored at national level.  The Abuja Declaration of 2009 saw all state governors commit to the improved allocation of resources for polio eradication and pledge logistics support for immunization days. It was agreed that all local government chairmen are responsible and accountable for polio eradication in their communities.

Working in partnership
The NPHCDA has also looked to partner agencies including WHO, UNICEF, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Rotary International. They worked together on a national communications campaign in 2010 alongside Nigeria’s best known football star, Kanu. The programme has also had the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The results
Wild polio virus (WPV) was present in only four states in 2010 compared to 23 states in 2009.
Only 6 cases of WPV were identified in 2010 compared to 612 cases in 2008.
Total numbers of WPV cases reduced by more than 50% in 2009 compared to 2008, and the transmission of the most dangerous and virulent Type 1 was reduced by more than 90%.
The number of acute flaccid paralysis cases that have never received oral polio vaccine decreased from 35% in 2005 to 10% 2009.

The eradication of Polio is one of the key milestones in our goal to control preventable diseases. The initiative is also related to Millennium Development Goal 4, which aims to reduce child mortality. For more information please see the latest MDG 4 update here, or browse the polio section in the Information Centre.